NASA flagged foam as "special topic" for flight before Columbia

Friday, March 21st 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

(Washington-AP) -- Documents show NASA's deliberations for deciding that risks from breakaway foam weren't sufficient to delay a shuttle launch.

The documents are among hundreds of pages from internal reports that NASA released late yesterday about most recent shuttle missions.

Shuttle "Columbia" broke up February first -- killing all seven astronauts.

The search for shuttle debris continues today in East Texas.

Officials are investigating whether foam that broke off during the January launch damaged the left wing -- possibly leading to the Columbia disaster.

NASA, for the last shuttle mission before Columbia's fateful flight, flagged as a major concern the loss of foam on external fuel tanks.

The space agency concluded that damage from such breakaway foam didn't threaten shuttle safety and determined the fuel tank attached to "Endeavor" was safe to fly.